Silvio Berlusconi, one of George Bush’s closest allies, says he repeatedly tried to talk the US president out of invading Iraq, in comments to be broadcast today.

In the television interview, which goes out on the day the Italian prime minister flies to Washington to meet Mr Bush, Mr Berlusconi says he even enlisted the help of the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gadafy, in behind-the-scenes efforts to stop America going to war.

“I have never been convinced war was the best way to succeed in making a country democratic and extract it from an albeit bloody dictatorship,” he says. “I tried on several occasions to convince the American president not to wage war.”

You really need manure-proof boots to read this bombast.

Coming after Lewis Libby’s indictment capped a crisis week for the Bush administration, Mr Berlusconi’s remarks will be seen by many in Washington as treacherous. Italy’s prime minister is standing for re-election in just over five months and polls indicate that his support for Mr Bush is a major handicap. He became closely identified with Mr Bush soon after coming to office in 2001 and avoided criticism of US policy in the run-up to the war. In March 2003 he told parliament the use of force against Iraq was legitimate and Italy could not abandon the Americans “in their fight against terrorism”.

His latest remarks were nevertheless at odds with public perceptions of his stance and astonished his political rivals. “What’s going on?” asked Romano Prodi, the leader of the centre-left. “Has he finally realised the war was wrong? Well, let him say so. He told Bush? Well, it means he doesn’t count for anything at all.”

But at least one opposition politician suggested the prime minister might have been trying in advance to limit damage to his administration from the “CIA-gate” scandal. The document at the origin of the affair, which indicated that Saddam Hussein’s regime tried to buy uranium in Africa, was allegedly forged by an Italian with links to the intelligence services.

The government has acknowledged that the head of Italy’s military intelligence met the then national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, in September 2002, shortly before the document was distributed to US intelligence agencies.

Detailed reporting about the forgeries is here. Berlusconi manages to add new meaning to opportunism.



  1. Warren Pattison says:

    I’m all for free speech. I really enjoy reading your articles. And I can respect alot of what people have to say, even if I don’t agree with them.

    But your choice of images for this post is just over the top for me. I’m not Jewish, and yes, I’m a supporter of our President…for the most part.

    I’m not expecting you to reply to my comment, nor change the picture. I just wanted to voice my opinion, I guess.

    Regards,
    Warren

  2. alessandro says:

    he was so against it, he went on the record saying “western civilization is superior to arab civilization.” how sad.

  3. faustus says:

    the photo is a bit much hey johno?? i mean i hate bush as much as the next but hitler?? adolph “i gased millions of innocent ppl” hitler? ill say one thing, gotta love the americans sense of history as shallow as it may be.

  4. Eideard says:

    I love the deep understanding so many of my fellow Americans have on dissent. “I’m all for free speech — BUT”. It matches our parochialism.

    The article is about Berlusconi. The photoshopped image was all about Berlusconi buddying up to Bush — just as did Mussolini to Hitler — and when it appeared in Italy, most folks got it.

    Don’t blame John. Look at the name under the caption for the post.

  5. GaryM says:

    Hard to believe you removed it, Eideard. Parody is designed to provoke thought and is protected speech. But in this homogenized, beige society people, (like the two characters above), when confronted with something that upsets their little shallow sensibilities, first look for how to feel offended and when they see find it, they pounce and get all shrill.

    Then they stop thinking and never think about it again. Never see another angle, even for a moment. Even for just a moment. I find that more scary than the picture. And sad.

    They push more towards making the parody a reality than the parody ever could.

  6. Eideard says:

    GaryM — I think the feed to your browser must have hiccuped. I just hit the post with cache and history refreshed in my browser — and the illo is still there. We’re fairly solid on our links — usually only lose something if someone at the linked end pulls the source.

  7. Brian says:

    What’s the problem here? Someone invokes free speech, but says a particular photo shouldn’t be shown?

    Come on, it’s apparent this Italian PM was buddying up to Bush when it suited his needs – and now, when it’s not the dance he wants, he tries to distance himself?

    I think this needs to be the focus of the discussion, not the photo (even though the photo recaptures the way Mussolini cozied up to Hitler the same exact way this scenario is going down).

  8. robert bishop says:

    please get this picture of this site. it’s tasteless and quite ridiculous. comparing hilter to bush is wrong. the reason i don’t use evidence or support because i don’t believe it is neccassary

  9. Thomas says:

    First of all, do we really care that the Italians were/are supposedly against the war? In the grander scheme of things, does it really make that much difference? That the Italian government and the Italian people were unable to understand why Iraq had to go didn’t affect our decision to do it anyway nor will it affect our current work in Iraq.

    Secondly, to compare Bush to Hitler is to seriously forget Hitler’s motives and methods. Do I fight for the right of the photoshopper to post such a photo? Yes! Do I agree with his conclusions? No. That the Italians would compare Bush to Hilter shows a severe ignorance of just what exactly Hitler did and how Bush’s actions and motives are diametrically opposed. Should we care that they understand? No.

    Much like the French, if your country is onboard with our stance on Iraq, great! Come on board. If you are not, fine. Get out of our way and you can thank us later.

  10. pendrake says:

    Funny, when I looked at the photo, all I could think about was Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz! What a zany, comic pair of bumbling doofuses!

  11. BOB G says:

    John Is responsable for what goes on this site. so he is to blame. Myself and most of the jews will find this in poor taste at best

  12. Pat says:

    BOB G

    I agree. Bush playing us for fools and invading Iraq on false pretenses is in very bad taste. I’m sure that the 2,000 Americans that have died for dubya’s vanity and desired place in history also agree. And I’m very sure that the 10s of thousands of Iraqis that have died and hundreds of thousands maimed and seriously wounded think the whole invasion is also in bad taste.

    At first I thought the picture was in bad taste until I realized just how much it grabbed everyone’s attention. That makes it apt and correct. It is also good journalism. And it is a very good parody of the truth.

    Thomas

    Get a life. I think you are unable to understand why Iraq was invaded. For you to summarily dismiss another’s opposition, built on reasoning and evidence, then you belong in the car following the one in the picture. Hitler didn’t care about the truth, he had Joseph Goebells to tell the world he was right, and if you disagreed with him he would send his version of Homeland Insecurity / FBI to talk to you. They might not be on the same scale, but I seriously believe dubya would if he could get away with it.

  13. Thomas says:

    Pat,

    I would bet that I have a better understanding of why we invaded Iraq that you. I dismiss Italy’s opposition for numerous reasons not the least of which is the timing of their argument. To come out now and claim “we told you not to” is merely playing for sympathy and votes. What should our reaction be to the Italians if Iraq stablizes? Basically, it is a meaninless gesture by the Italians.

    In regards to Hitler, which metaphor or characteristics are you using to compare him to Bush? You can’t seem to get them straight. Let’s take you truth telling example. Before the war started, numerous generals questioned Hitler’s decisions to take Czecholslavakia. Thanks to Chamerlain many of those generals were silenced by the “see I told you I knew what I was doing”. When he suggested invading France, again some (but fewer) generals questioned his actions. After the French laid down like lame horse, it silenced the rest of his generals. *They* believed that he really could pull off taking Europe (and he almost did).

    DHS and the FBI and even GitMo are NOTHING compared to the tactics used by the SS on its own people. The SS shot people if they did not comply with their wishes. Learn a little about history! Try talking with some Germans that lived under Hitler’s rule and ask them if life in the US is even remotely similar. To compare Hitler to Bush is to be completely ignorant of just how bad Hitler was.

  14. Robert says:

    Everyone wants to say there is no connection with Hitler and Bush, but there is some as I see it.
    1) Pushing your country to go to war(s) for no reason
    2) A general belief in your people’s superiority
    3) Employing the technique of repeating a lie over and over again until the people believe “There was a relationship between Al Qa’ida and Sadam” etc.
    4) Doing whatever the hell you want even if all the other countries in the world are against you.
    Sure he is not exterminating races of people but there was much more to Hitler’s regime than that.

  15. Thomas says:

    > 1) Pushing your country to go to war(s) for no reason

    We had numerous reasons to invade not the least of which was to stabilize that region and root out terrorists on their own ground. Basically, taking Iraq has mobilized the other countries in that region to work with us to root out al Qaeda operatives.

    > 2) A general belief in your people’s superiority

    On the contrary, Bush believes our system of government (a democratic republic) is superior and he would be right. He also believes we have superior military and technological capabilities and he would again be right. He also believes that toppling a horrid dictatorship that gassed its own people to convert to our system of government will be better for the region in the long run. Time will tell, but I would suggest he is right here too. Hitler,on the other hand, wasn’t trying to convert Poland, France or Russia to Fascism. He was trying to conquer Europe and exterminate the Russians and Jews. Do you not see the VAST difference in those motives vs. Bush’s?

    > 3) Employing the technique of repeating a lie over and
    > over again until the people believe “There was a
    > relationship between Al Qa’ida and Sadam” etc.

    Actually, there WAS a relationship between Al Qaeda and Saddam. What we did not have was evidence of this relationship *before* we invaded. After we invaded however, we did find evidence that Iraq provided training facilities to Al Qaeda just as we found out how corrupt the Oil-for-Food program had been. You don’t seem to mind that sort of repeated lying.

    > 4) Doing whatever the hell you want even if all the
    > other countries in the world are against you.

    So, Britain, Australia and other coalition counties don’t count I suppose?

    > Sure he is not exterminating races of people
    > but there was much more to Hitler’s regime than that.

    Sure he’s doing nothing for which Hitler will forever be remembered, but so what! You’ll make the comparison anyway. Hitler was trying to recreate the Roman Empire under German rule. Bush doesn’t want anything of the sort. He wants that region to finally get its head out of the sand (to put it nicely) and stabilize in order to make everyone safer. We’ve tried letting them do it on their own and that clearly did not work. The only solution that seems to work is to forcefully take out these theocratic dictatorships and have their own people put in a democratic republic. By taking out Afghanistan and Iraq it has put tremendous pressure on Syria, Saudi Arabia and others.

  16. zeke says:

    Jews invited a published holocaust denier to the memorial opening about 5-6 years ago but kicked out the president of the Buchenwald survivors out, I think it is safe to say that a nazi costume is NOT a problem.

    As long as it serves the needs of the few, nazi symbols are always welcome, it just depends what ‘truth’ they are helping you promote.

  17. zeke says:

    By the way, Hitler also used the Skandar and Skallenberg divisions in teh Balkans which were made up up albanians and bosnians muslim soldiers.
    There are archived pictures of the mufti of Jerusalem visiting the troops alongside SS officers.

    So I wouldnt hold them too much ‘to that superior race’ theory. Adolf might have preached it but when it came time, you had german uniforms with fez wearin soldiers.

  18. Pat says:

    > 1) Pushing your country to go to war(s) for no reason

    Every reason initially cited by Bush has been shown to be wrong. Bush knew there were no WMD in Iraq. That is why he wouldn’t allow the UN inspectors to complete their inspections before bombing the shit out of Iraq. After the WMD were not found, new reasons were invented.

    > 2) A general belief in your people’s superiority

    Bush doesn’t believe the American system of democracy is best. He consistently tries to circumvent it. You don’t think so? How about stealing the 2000 and 2004 elections through fraud. How about the denial of habious corpus (sp) to American citizens. How about the tearing up of treaties because he didn’t like his obligations. How about insisting the UN investigate Syria’s involvement in the Lebanese politician’s death yet refuses to allow UN inspectors to visit Gitmo or Iraqi prison deaths by American troops. How about Bushes politicking on the taxpayer dollar to selected Republican audiences.

    >3) Employing the technique of repeating a lie over and over again until the people believe “There was a relationship between Al Qa’ida and Sadam” etc.

    The only relationship between Al Qaida and Iraq happened after the American led invasion.

    The only portions of Afghanistan that is under President’s Karzi’s control is in the general vicinity of the capitol, Kabul. The rest of the country is still controlled by warlords, not all of whom are benevolent to the government. Most of the rest of the world was against the American invasion and subsequent actions.

    And lastly, I am tired of Jews claiming sole ownership of the holocaust. There were upwards of 20 million Ukrainians and Russians killed during the war, mostly civilians. Hitler also exterminated gypsies, homosexuals, and political opponents in the concentration camps. It was a tragic period in human history. Nor is it the only genocide experienced in the past century. Armenians, Kurds, Cambodians, Sudanese, Rwuandians, Bosnians and Kosavars are but a few of the massacred.

  19. faustus says:

    the left’s bush bashing diatribes are nothing more than bitter, angry, dishonest declarations that are phony right to the core. the left, and this picture is classic of it, is destroying american liberalism as we knew it which is about fairness openess and integrity. no one is saying mr. dvor-yak doesnt have the right to post it, this is his blog. but if he is posting it as such he is saying he buys into this bs. how hateful the left has become and loud and nasty… its a last dying howl of a very sick animal nodoubt.

  20. meetsy says:

    faustus
    I’m not **left**. Never have been. My political roots go back to 1640…and none of them would be considered **left**. However, I agree with bush bashing. The man is a disgrace, a failure, a liar, and morally corrupt.
    Go ahead and defend him.
    The new-right seems to want to parrot whatever they are told, instead of thinking. Try the RED PILL, faustus. Maybe you’ll start thinking for yourself.
    First try THIS QUESTION: do you like the direction the country, your state, your city is headed?
    Our leadership sets the tone of the nation. All I see is rampant greed, lies, gouging, and moral decay around me. I’m concerned. Why aren’t you?


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